putin medvedev Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russia’s Cold War Habit

Mikhail Gorbachev has accused the US of dragging Russia into a new cold war, in an effort to "realize its general triumphalist idea.” But the current antagonism between the US and Russia is nothing new, and, like past confrontations, it is almost entirely Russia's fault.

MOSCOW – A few weeks ago, Mikhail Gorbachev – the last leader of the Soviet Union and the man who did more than anyone to end the Cold War – told the German newspaper Bild that it is possible “to recognize all the features of a new cold war in today’s world.” The United States “has already dragged” Russia into it, Gorbachev has said, in an effort “to realize its general triumphalist idea.”

But is the current antagonism between the US and Russia really “new”? And is it credible to place the blame overwhelmingly on the US, as Gorbachev and certainly the Kremlin are inclined to do? To answer these questions, we must look to history – beginning long before Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain Speech” in 1946.

In fact, the adversarial relationship between Russia and the West began over a century before the Cold War. Back in the 1820s, Russia emerged not only as the principal victor in the Napoleonic wars, but also as the most conservative – or, more accurately, reactionary – force in Europe. Under Czars Alexander I and Nicholas I, it stood ready to counter any sign of a renewal of the “revolutionary plague” infecting the continent’s monarchies.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/pbCxZ6O;
  1. China corruption Isaac Lawrence/Getty Images

    The Next Battle in China’s War on Corruption

    • Chinese President Xi Jinping knows well the threat that corruption poses to the authority of the Communist Party of China and the state it controls. 
    • But moving beyond Xi's anti-corruption purge to build robust and lasting anti-graft institutions will not be easy, owing to enduring opportunities for bureaucratic capture.
  2. Italy unemployed demonstration SalvatoreEsposito/Barcroftimages / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

    Putting Europe’s Long-Term Unemployed Back to Work

    Across the European Union, millions of people who are willing and able to work have been unemployed for a year or longer, at great cost to social cohesion and political stability. If the EU is serious about stopping the rise of populism, it will need to do more to ensure that labor markets are working for everyone.

  3. Latin America market Federico Parra/Getty Images

    A Belt and Road for the Americas?

    In a time of global uncertainty, a vision of “made in the Americas” prosperity provides a unifying agenda for the continent. If implemented, the US could reassert its historical leadership among a group of countries that share its fundamental values, as well as an interest in inclusive economic growth and rising living standards.

  4. Startup office Mladlen Antonov/Getty Images

    How Best to Promote Research and Development

    Clearly, there is something appealing about a start-up-based innovation strategy: it feels democratic, accessible, and so California. But it is definitely not the only way to boost research and development, or even the main way, and it is certainly not the way most major innovations in the US came about during the twentieth century.

  5. Trump Trade speech Bill Pugliano/Getty Images .

    Preparing for the Trump Trade Wars

    In the first 11 months of his presidency, Donald Trump has failed to back up his words – or tweets – with action on a variety of fronts. But the rest of the world's governments, and particularly those in Asia and Europe, would be mistaken to assume that he won't follow through on his promised "America First" trade agenda.